Thursday 21 February 2019

Sherelle Jacobs thinks she understand TIG's Machiavellian strategy

Perhaps I am getting old. Certainly I have a lot of work to do and I am preoccupied by the myriad horrors afflicting the Catholic Church, but I simply could not understand what the point of The Independent Group of MPs, who this week left the British Labour Party, was. 

Until, that is, I read a very good article by Sherelle Jacobs in today's Daily Telegraph. 

She gives a convincing explanation. She thinks they know full well that they cannot break the to party system thanks to our electoral system
But the Anna Soubrys and Chuka Umunnas have been facing deselection for months. Knowing that the political end is probably nigh for them anyway, these obscure MPs have spotted an opportunity to change the course of history, and in the process write themselves a legacy. That is to force the Prime Minister to kill off Brexit, in a calculated kamikaze-style plot. 

Their plan probably goes like this: form a credible-looking if ultimately doomed breakaway movement, and then encourage Remainer Conservative MPs to effectively hold the PM hostage. These Tories can achieve the latter by telling Theresa May that unless she takes no-deal off the table, they will join the Independents. Due to the Conservatives’ now wafer-thin working majority, this would prompt the Government to fall. 

Unable to get her unpopular deal through Parliament, or pursue no deal, the PM would have little choice but to try and pivot to a Norway-style agreement to keep her Government together. People’s Vote supporters wager that such a Norway deal would be unpopular with the electorate, with Brexiteers and Remainers alike preferring to go back into the EU than settle for a deal that effectively amounts to ‘non-voting Remain’. 

Which is how you get to a Second Referendum. The Independent Group will eventually be swept away in a general election, but not until Brexit is well and truly up in smoke.

Sherelle Jacobs thinks Theresa May's best strategy is to postpone Brexit and call an election. I am not convinced of that. I think the Norway option would do very well for the time being. I also think she may have no choice as, when the Southern Irish government persuades Sinn Fein to take their seats in Parliament the charade is over and the government will fall.

The Independent Group have little chance of winning over enough Labour voters to be a large third part, much less replace Labour. What politics needs now is a Eurosceptic, anti-immigration party that eschews austerity.

If I were Labour and Remain I would think Tom Watson should persuade the Parliamentary Labour Party to elect their own leader called The Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, which was he official title of the Labour leader until Wilson's time. 

It may well be too late for that.


    Brexit and the Single Market
    George Yarrow

    The UK is currently a Contracting Party to the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement, and exit from the EU does not necessarily imply exit from the Single Market (i.e. withdrawal from the Agreement). Exit from the EEA would require that extra steps be taken, either unilaterally by the UK or by the other Contracting Parties to the Agreement.

    There is no explicit provision in the Agreement for the UK to cease to be a Contracting Party other than by unilateral, voluntary withdrawal, which requires simply the giving of twelve months’ notice in writing (Article 127). A commonly held assumption that only EU and EFTA members can be Parties to the EEA Agreement – and hence that the UK has to be a member of one or other of these two organisations to be in the Single Market – is not well grounded, although UK consideration of an application for EFTA membership is an option well worth exploring in its own right.

    In the absence of a prior withdrawal notice or of steps by other Contracting Parties to try to force UK exit (of a nature not yet identified and not necessarily feasible in the light of the Vienna Conventions on the Law of Treaties and on Succession of States in respect of Treaties), on Day 1 of the post-Brexit era the default position appears to be that UK would still be a Party to the EEA Agreement.

    Should the UK choose not to withdraw from the EEA there would be need for some textual adjustments to the Agreement, if only to reflect the UK’s changed status as a non-EU Contracting Party. The more substantive implications of continuing participation concern the operation of the institutions supporting the non-EU Contracting Parties – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – not the EU institutions.

    Continued participation in the EEA following Brexit would see substantial repatriation of powers covering the areas of agriculture, fisheries, trade policy, foreign and security policy, justice and home affairs, taxation, and immigration, consistent with the strong desire of many Leave voters to ‘take back control’. It would, for example, give the UK freedom to negotiate its own trade deals and set its own tariffs, as well as dispensing with the egregiously protectionist common agricultural policy.

    Immigration is the most vexed issue, not least because of the difficulties in establishing a reasoned discourse on relevant matters. The underlying problem concerns the interpretation and application of the principle of free movement of persons, in respect of which EU political leaderships tend to favour a rather fundamentalist, ‘non-negotiable’ position, motivated by the goal of political union.

    Nevertheless, the Agreement provides scope for unilateral action on free movement of persons
    that is not currently possible for the UK as a member state of the EU. Post-Brexit the
    Agreement would allow scope for at least some degree of re-alignment of interpretation and
    application of the free movement principle to better fit with commercial policy objectives.

    1. "...on Day 1 of the post-Brexit era the default position appears to be that UK would still be a Party to the EEA Agreement."

  2. Finally, a few words about what the Brits are leaving. The drama of Brexit has enabled the Europeans to shift attention from all those issues that were already past the point of no return in 2016: immigration, refugees, the Ukraine War, Russian aggression, the Syrian War, overloaded pensions, demographic collapse, sovereign debt, Greek insolvency, Italian banking, the failure of the German political center, the deliberate destruction of liberal democracy in Poland and Hungary, the end of productive relations with Turkey, etc.

    Not only have none of these issues gone away, all have gotten worse. Many are fully capable of killing the European project independently. All of them combined simply make the end of the EU an issue of a betting pool for the date. With the Brexit “process” about completed, all European eyes will refocus back upon these unsolvable issues. For Europe, the year 2019 will suck as much as it will for the Brits. The EU was always going to end, so the Brits getting out before the collapse and getting a head start on whatever is next will a decade from now broadly be remembered as the right call.

    Brexit: The End of the Beginning
    By Peter Zeihan

  3. The truth is we’re at an historic moment for the UK, this is a crossroads, I think anyone being able to predict with precision exactly what will happen with a WTO Brexit is I think not being humble enough about the uncertainty.
    Dominic Raab